Higher Education Leadership Purpose Statement

Higher Education Leadership Purpose Statement

The purpose of higher education leadership is to ensure organizational learning through the induction of most qualified men and women in educational institutions, at the same time keeping pace with rapidly changing educational standards by applying modern teaching and research methodologies, to embrace flexibility and creativity in virtual learning of diversified workforce across the globe. Higher education leadership aims to win the commitment and loyalty of personnel in order to achieve efficiency and effectiveness as well as to encourage change and innovation and lessen stagnation and conventional methods in learning. Since the increasing number of adjunct faculty members is employed for cost cutting, therefore, this study will assess the effectiveness of adjunct faculty in educational institutions through examining particular case scenarios. Given the observation, adjunct faculty is said to be less involved with students. Henceforth, the results will be helpful in determining the pros and cons of adjunct faculty as well as the repercussions arising out of their employment.

Literature Review

Role of leadership is indispensable in every field nowadays. Leadership in higher education strives to widen the horizons for learning, polishing the skills and capabilities of people to learn and be learned. Keeping in mind, the increasing workforce diversity, demanding schedules and workplace commitments, it is crucial for today’s leader to address these and many other concerns in order to ensure motivation, satisfaction and loyalty on the part of followers. Leadership is defined as a process where a person influences a group of people to achieve certain goals and objectives. Effective communication, shared vision and a unified sense of direction are prerequisites for leadership (DuBrin, 1998).

An educational institution is no different from other organizations as far as the importance of leadership is concerned. Leaders in education sector can no longer function separately: rather, their actions and decisions must be driven by shared learning. They must be able to develop goals and targets, collaborate with people, act ethically and create sense of unified mission among the organizational members (Kenzer, Carducci & McGavin, 2006). Moreover, leaders in academia must possess strong negotiation skills, since they have to maintain a balance between the needs and demands of staff, students and external stakeholders (Smith & Hughey, 2006).

Leadership in higher education also termed as Academic Leadership has several dimensions. Broadly speaking, academic leadership is based upon teaching, research, strategic vision and networking, collaborative and motivational leadership, fair and efficient management, performance recognition and communication skills (Ramsden, 1998). Bryman (2007) compiled a list of desirable attributes of an academic leader. After interviewing 24 researchers across UK and USA, following attributes were narrowed down. I.e. sense of direction, integrity, credibility, collaboration, communication and decision making ability. The most important attribute of an academic leader is to create a working environment conducive to learning and growth (Bryman, 2007). Callow (2011) applied the transformational leadership model of Bass to higher education. Leader in higher education can practice the components of transformational leadership. I.e. individualized consideration (addressing the followers / teachers / staff / students’ problems and concerns personally), inspirational motivation (creating and disseminating a shared vision for the institution), intellectual stimulation (encouraging creativity, learning and research).

Using the model of Academic Leadership by Ramsden (1998), Sathye found out that as compared to the leadership style of business or corporate organizations, academic leadership has a more evolving nature. It further concluded that in order to keep pace with speedy advancements in education, it is inevitable for an academic leader to quickly respond to learning and new developments. The author emphasized that an academic leader must be apolitical and should prioritize performance, goal specification and goal attainment (Sathye, 2004). Unlike business organizations, people in higher education are not prepared for assuming leadership roles, rather their vital concern is accomplishing educational excellence. Thus, they remain oblivious to the underlying problems and discrepancies thriving and perhaps damaging the organization (Hill, 2005).

Another daunting problem being faced by academic leaders today is to balance the education with employment. Mobility of workforce has not only created diversity, but is also responsible for decline in employment opportunities. In such circumstances, it is crucial for leaders in education to deliver not only mere graduates, rather knowledgeable and enlightened workforce.

Apart from the above concerns, another debatable issue in higher education leadership is gender. Previous literature is evident that women do not hold as much leadership positions in higher education as men do. Glass ceilings and certain preconceived notions about female leadership are usually referred to as common reasons for women underrepresentation in various organizations. Discussing the role of gender in higher education leadership, Morley (2013) suggests that there is a pressing need for legislation to increase women representation in higher education. Development and promotion of women leadership in higher education could also be fruitful. At last, surveys and researches should be conducted exploring the issue across the globe as well as taking into consideration the respective repercussions (Morley, 2013).

Industrial and technological evolution has intensified the interdependence of people across the world to embrace novel methodologies in education sector. Hanna (2003) has identified some of the most forceful challenges in the field of higher education. Firstly, it is indispensable for educational institutions to lessen the boundaries and increase information sharing with other organizations. The knowledge web enveloping the globe requires the schools, colleges and universities to be less isolated and build environments conducive to learning based on networking. Hanna (2003) further emphasized the importance of technological growth and competent faculty for higher education leadership. Several researchers stated that adjunct faculty should not be employed since it leads to poor teaching quality. The adjunct faculty is less involved with the organization’s overall culture and values. Since they work temporarily, they cannot develop long-term relationships with students which might compromise their teaching effectiveness. Adjunct faculty leads to decline in teaching quality (Bettinger & Long, 2005). Affiliations and joint programs between organizations can stimulate learning. Furthermore, today’s educational leaders need to be strategic thinkers, who can establish a vision and influence everyone to pursue common goals (Hanna, 2003).

There is a serious lack of higher education leadership training across the world. A survey found out that the least preference is given to leadership training of employees working in educational institutions. Only 33.3% support is dedicated to in-house leadership training programs. Less than 20% educational institutions have coaching or mentoring programs for enhancing the leadership skills of their faculty and staff (Academic Impressions, 2011). This affects the performance of both adjunct as well as non-adjunct faculty.

The concept of leadership in higher education has come to limelight after the mid twentieth century when nations of the world realized that education plays a vital role in shaping the economic, social, cultural and political norms and values of a society. Nevertheless, it has been observed that academic leaders can experience stress and burnout. Continuous challenges and advancements in education are further creating obstacles for leaders to cope with the situation (Smith & Hughey, 2006).

Coming towards the performance issues of adjunct faculty members, an exploratory study investigated the preferences and priorities of adjunct faculty. The findings showed that the major problem encountered by adjunct faculty is compensation. Adjunct faculty members interviewed during the study stated that their pay increases do not cover the annual inflation rates, thus resulting in lessened purchasing power. Second concern mentioned was the equality of pay scales for adjunct faculty across all the colleges. Furthermore, in order to maintain performance and teaching quality of adjunct faculty, it has been demanded that proper framework should be established to ensure effective and timely promotions of adjunct faculty members. Lastly, fringe benefits like office and parking space, storage facilities for preserving workplace equipment must be provided to the adjunct faculty, so that they work in an comfortable working environment (AAUP, 2008).

Research Questions

Based upon the above literature, following are some research questions that are needed to be addressed to cope with contemporary challenges of higher education leadership.

What skill set an academic leader should possess in order to effectively lead an educational institution?

What leadership style should an academic leader employ?

Which of the conventional methods of teaching should be retained and what new learning techniques should be embraced?

How to improve the performance of adjunct faculty?

What steps can be taken to ensure job involvement of adjunct faculty?

What are the problems of adjunct faculty that can be addressed by in house administration?

Research Design and Methodology

Population and Sample

Crisis in higher education leadership exist all over the globe. However, current study will be conducted in five (population) educational institutions. Data will be collected from a sample of 25 academic leaders to measure higher education leadership. Questionnaires can be floated either in person or via email. However, personal interviews can be held in person, or through telephone/video call. For studying the impact of adjunct faculty on teaching quality and student performance, students and teachers of both the classes being taught by adjunct and non-adjunct faculty will be observed and interviewed.

Data Collection Methods

Interviews are the most frequently used method to explore what leadership patterns exist in higher education. In almost all the above studies, personal interviews were conducted to determine the problems revolving around higher education leadership as well as the attributes of academic leader. For this study, people working in leadership positions in various educational institutions will be interviewed in order to get insights into the needs and problems of higher education leadership. Following open ended questions can be included in interviews,

How long have you been working in education field?

Describe your job. What areas of your job description require you to lead others?

Do your subordinates depend on you for accomplishing certain tasks?

How many leadership training workshops or seminars you have attended so far?

Are you and your institution flexible enough to incorporate new teaching methods and learning methodologies?

What leadership style do you prefer to handle conflicts and redress grievances? Elaborate reasons.

Can you transmit your ideas and vision in others’ minds? Support your answer in light of a previous experience.

Furthermore, queries regarding the teaching performance of adjunct faculty will be addressed through observation of classes taught by both adjunct and non-adjunct faculty. A comparative analysis of the resulting case scenarios will be followed.

Research Instrument

The study conducted by Callow (2011) has measured higher education leadership in light of four leadership components of transformational leadership. Educational leaders need to be transformational so that they can ensure change through collaboration with the followers (Bass, 2000). Thus, for current study, the instrument of transformational leadership developed by Bass & Avolio (1995) will be used to assess the leadership skills of academic leaders. Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire will measure the degree of academic leadership skills of the selected sample.

Data Analysis

Simple Correlation will be used to statistically analyze the relationship and interdependence of transformational leadership dimensions of academic leaders.

Potential Bias

There is a probability of bias in using Bass & Avolio (1995) instrument of transformational leadership. A study conducted to investigate the consistency and validity of MLQ found out that MLQ generates high correlations among all the dimensions of transformational leadership. This implies that at certain points the dimensions of transformational leadership described by Bass may converge into one another. For example, respondents might be ambiguous in separately identifying the behaviors of transformational leadership. I.e. intellectual stimulation, individualized consideration, inspirational motivation and idealized influence (Charisma). This may lead to biased data and findings. However, the authors conclude that MLQ is relatively the most accurate instrument to measure transformational leadership (Lievens, Geit & Coetsier, 1997).

Anticipated Results and Research Significance

A lot of literary work has already been done in the field of higher education leadership. Similarly, the discussions of the problems encountered by adjunct faculty as well as their consequences are also in place. The current study will take into account two main issues. Firstly, the role of key people in education sector as leaders will be examined. Secondly, the study will address the causes and effects of poor teaching quality of adjunct faculty. The former will not only help in analyzing the educator’s role as a leader, but will assist several educational institutions bearing the fruits of ineffective and inefficient leadership. Qualitative information acquired through interviews will be helpful in determining particular leadership patterns prevailing among academic leaders nowadays. Whereas measuring transformational leadership quantitatively will build an accurate understanding of how academic leaders transform their followers and lead them towards the desired destination. On the other hand, the issues of adjunct faculty if addressed can bring tremendous improvements in the performance of education institutions. Establishing new courses of action including fair pay rates and suitable working conditions can elevate the teaching performance of adjunct faculty while keeping the costs low at the same time. A case study derived from the comparison of both adjunct and non-adjunct faculty will further enhance the findings.


American Association of University Professors (2008).

Academic Impressions (2011). Rethinking Higher Education’s Leadership Crisis. Retrieved on 22/10/2013 (http://www.academicimpressions.com/news/rethinking-higher-educations-leadership-crisis)

Avolio, B.J. & Bass B.M. (1995). Individual consideration viewed at multiple levels of analysis: A multi-framework for examining the diffusion of transformational leadership. Leadership Quarterly, 6, 188-218.

Bass, B.M. (2000). The Future of Leadership in Learning Organizations. Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies. Sage Publications.

Bettinger, E. & Long, B.T. (2005). Help or Hinder? Adjunct Professors and Student Outcomes. NBER.

Bryman, A. (2007). Effective Leadership in Higher Education. Research and Development Series, Leadership Foundation for Higher Education.

Callow, N. (2011). Transformational Leadership in Higher Education: Resource Guide. The Higher Education Academy.

DuBrin, A.J. (1998). Leadership- Research Findings, Practices, and Skills. Second Edition. Houghton Mifflin.

Hanna, D. (2003). Building a Leadership Vision, Eleven Strategic Challenges for Higher Education. EDUCAUSE Review.

Hill, L. (2005). Leadership Development- A Strategic Imperative for Higher Education. Harvard Business School Working Paper.

Kenzer, A.J., Carducci, R. & Contreras-McGavin, M (2006). Rethinking the L Word in Higher Education: The Revolution of Research on Leadership. ASHE Higher Education Report.

Lievens, F., Geit, P.V. & Coetsier, P. (1997). Identification of Transformaional Leadership Qualities: An Examination of Potential Biases. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology. Vol 6, 4, 415-430. 1997 Psychology Press Ltd.

Morley, L. (2013). Women and Higher Education Leadership: Absences and Aspirations. Leadership Foundation for Higher Education.

Ramsden, P. (1998). Managing the Effective University. Higher Education Research and Development. Vol 17, 3, 347-370.

Sathye, M. (2004). Leadership in Higher Education: A Qualitative Study. Forum: Qualitative Social Research. Vol 5, 3. FQS 2004.

Smith, B.L. & Hughey, A.W. (2006). Leadership in Higher Education- Its Evolution and Potential: A unique role facing critical challenges. Counseling and Student Affairs Faculty Publications, Western Kentucky University.

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